I realized that I never updated after our visit with Auntie E and the kids. We decided at the last minute to meet at a McDonald's, and it went really well. Steven always gets a little overwhelmed by the big kids loving on him, so I usually have to intervene and tell them to give him a chance to warm up to them again. Thankfully, he's doing a lot better now that he's older and remembers them between visits. He knows all their names and likes to talk about them, and I know his anxiety will lessen with each visit. Michelle, as usual, just goes with the flow and runs around like crazy. She also had her own way of dealing with the smothering at one point--they were a little too intense with her, and she responded by spitting up all over one of her brothers. Oh well, she got some space after that :)
I had Michelle wear her new "I'm a Big Sister!" shirt with a jacket over it, and shortly after they got there, one of her older sisters took off Michelle's jacket. It was sooner than I planned on doing it, but I asked Auntie E if she noticed Michelle's shirt, and at first, she was like "Oh that's nice." I told her to look again :) She was really excited for us and said that she was going to cry. We didn't know the gender at that point, and she said she hoped it was a boy so Michelle would be the only girl.
We spent several hours together, just chatting while the kids played. Steven never climbed through the play area, but he was happy hanging out in the bottom area. He gets really timid in new situations, and there was no way I was going in the climbing thing with him! Michelle went with her sisters, but Steven just didn't feel like it, I guess. He did run around like crazy, though, so I know he had a good time. I also found out that he gets his very (overly at times) sensitive nature from his birthfather and that his full brother is the same way. That really fascinated me because I never really thought of that as being a genetic trait. It's amazing how much he and his one brother are alike (Mark even got them confused during our spring visit!), and they are definitely their birthfather's kids (and Steven is actually a junior after his birthfather). I love learning these little things about them!
I once again made the mistake of waiting until the end of the visit to try to get a group picture, but we did get some hilarious ones of the three boys. Unfortunately, another kid kept getting into the picture, so I finally got up and told him that I didn't know him, so I didn't need him in the picture.
We will probably go up to visit again as a family next month for a combined Christmas/birthday visit. Last year, we met up at Chuck E. Cheese's, but there was a shooting at it earlier this year, so we've been meeting at other restaraunts and parks. I don't think we'll go until mid December, or even early January. I need some time to figure out Christmas presents for Auntie E and the kids (we don't do birthdays with them, so I try to get/make something for them for Christmas). Any suggestions??